Volvo debuts new sterndrive engines

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Volvo Penta held a press event Tuesday to introduce two gas sterndrive power plants - the V8-380 and V8-225. The engine maker plans to have the engines on display next month at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

The engines were installed in three boats at the Volvo Penta Test Center in Suffolk, Va. The engine maker also introduced a new feature called Joystick Driving, which allows the driver to operate a boat with the joystick at high speeds.

"You don't have to have a steering wheel," Kull said. "The whole idea is to incorporate the joystick into the arm of the helm seat to allow the operator to sit back in comfort. It is ideal for long-distance boating and works with the autopilot."

Volvo Penta's new V8-380 gas sterndrive improves acceleration and fuel economy in a package that's lighter and more durable than its predecessor, Volvo engineers said during a press event that wrapped up Tuesday night.

"We did not stick with the same-old same-old," Volvo Penta manager of engine engineering Mel Cahoon said. "We didn't just update what we already had. We chose to go forward. This is a new generation of our highest-horsepower sterndrive."

The V8-380, the engine that powers the Chevy Silverado 2500 pickup truck, uses technological advancements to generate the same horsepower as its predecessor — the 8.1-liter engine that GM is no longer manufacturing — to more than make up for the engine's lower displacement of 6 liters, or 364 cubic inches, Cahoon said.

The engine's variable valve timing maximizes low-end torque and high-end horsepower, allowing the engine to use a higher gear reduction for a maximum rpm of 6,000. The result is an engine that weighs 245 pounds less and gets 12 percent better fuel economy, according to Volvo Penta.

The V8-380, which is coupled to either the Volvo Penta DP or Ocean Series drives, can power single-installations boats from 24 to 29 feet and twin-applications vessels from 30 to 40 feet.

The engine manufacturer also unveiled the V8-225 EVC, a 5.7-liter gas sterndrive that delivers power and torque and lower emissions, utilizing computer-controlled fuel management and catalytic exhaust treatment systems. The 225 and 380 are Volvo Penta's cleanest engines yet, satisfying California's tough emissions standards, vice president of marine sales Marcia Kull said.

Click here for the full report with video by Soundings senior reporter Chris Landry.